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Meet the Hammer Heads

Proud dad Paul Head with daughter Katie and son Tom Proud dad Paul Head with daughter Katie and son Tom

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
12:00 PM

It’s fair to say hammer throwing runs in the Head family.

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Tom and Katie Head in trainingTom and Katie Head in training

Double-Commonwealth bronze medallist Paul has passed on his talent and commitment to children Tom, 17, and 14-year-old Katie – and he’s looking to coach them to the top.

The teenagers are also members of Newham and Essex Beagles like their dad, but the 48-year-old says the pair would get the same support no matter what sport they’d chosen to play.

Paul said: “The kids do what they want. I’m incredibly proud that they’ve gone for hammer throwing, but if it had been something else that would be fine too.

“They’ve been dragged halfway around the world with me doing it so they’ve also been around high-end athletes.

“Katie was asleep in her mother’s arms when I won the Commonwealth bronze in Manchester. I guess they were enticed by the sport!”

Paul showed me the correct way to throw the hammer at Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford Green, but I refrained from having a proper go due to fear of injuring someone, or more likely myself!

Judging by the technique involved anything over 10m would have been a bonus.

But while my talent was negligible, the former British record holder is confident both Tom and Katie can follow him to compete at senior international level because they are ‘dedicated’ and ‘competitive.’

Katie, competing in the under-15s, has the second longest distance ever by an under-13 thrower.

Tom, on the other hand, hopes to compete in this year’s World Junior Championships in Oregon, in the United States.

His personal best is just under 65m, short of the 71m needed to qualify.

But his dad is confident he can do it. “He’s certainly capable. He’s improving all the time and his PB is 10m up on this time last year.

“I need to be unbiased when I’m coaching them. If something needs improving, I tell them. I take emotion out of it.”

All-rounder Tom, who’s been scouted for the county in swimming and badminton, reckons it’s a big plus having his dad in their corner.

The teenager said: “He’s been there and done it, it’s a massive
advantage. He knows what it takes to compete.

“I’m getting to where I want to be. It’s tougher than when my dad was at his peak, but with hard work anything’s possible.

“Schoolwork comes first and the hammer throwing comes second.”

His dad reiterated the importance of concentrating on their studies.

Paul thinks even Olympic hammer champions can sustain themselves for five years after they retire.

Women’s hammer throwing is a relatively new event. The first
Olympic medals were handed out in Atlanta in 1996.

Paul is pleased with the progress of Katie, who is still learning to “deal with her size and 5ft10in frame.”

The teenager says herself: “Dad dragged me into the sport because I was always around it. The training is quite full on, but I know I need to do it to get the distances I want. My friends understand it and it’s a sacrifice worth making.”

Their training is almost non-stop, including throwing, weight training, circuits and swimming.

The variety stems from the different skills needed to succeed. It’s a speed event as well as a strength event, with some of the aptitudes not too dissimilar to those required by ballet dancers.

“Katie has done six years of tap dancing training that definitely helps her balance and poise,” said Paul.

“Both are willing to work on the little details which is crucial to succeed.”

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